The Vinyl Revival: Why Music Lovers Are Going Back

What has many listeners across the Valley dropping the needle

FARGO-MOORHEAD — Vinyl: a comeback few people saw coming.

Many music hobbyists here in the Valley are trading in their newer CDs for older records.

It is nostalgia, or does it really sound better?

We spoke with collectors, store owners, and an area music engineer to find out what has many listeners dropping the needle.

“So Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms album, it was actually recorded on digital tape, said MSUM professor and music engineer Ryan Jackson. “So there’s really no reason on earth that it should sound better on vinyl.”

Jackson poured thousands of dollars into his music setup.

It’s been a work in progress for many years.

He says the sound quality of music has to do with a lot more factors than whether or not it’s on vinyl.

“I’m consistently hearing more things in this, and it has to do with the set–up, it has to do with the format and all of that stuff,” he said.

Jackson sat me down in a place he calls “the spot.”

We compared a digital recording of a Dire Straits song to its remastered vinyl recording.

Somehow, the vinyl revision of it did sound better.

“It was about a four dollar find in a thrift store,” Jackson said.

Brady Bredell’s father Dan opened up Mother’s Records in Moorhead back in the 1970’s.

It’s one of the area’s oldest businesses.

“I’ve worked here since I was a teenager and I’ve just always had a passion and a love for music and this store,” Bredell said.

As a store owner, he says the vinyl resurgence started about seven years ago.

“I think it’s a little bit of nostalgia and hipster takeover,” said Bredell. “They want a physical piece of media that they can hold on to.”

Bredell says CDs are still selling very well in an age where music downloads have taken over.

He says vinyl sales are no longer increasing, but they’re not decreasing either.

“Things are starting to level off a little bit,” said Bredell. “We’ve seen growth in the vinyl area for past eight, nine years and the numbers are kind of finally starting to level off.”

In the FM area, he says there’s a strong and growing community of vinyl hobbyists.

“There’s a strong vinyl market here in Fargo–Moorhead,” said Bredell.

Ryan Bennek said he’s always loved listening to new kinds of music.

But he didn’t get his first vinyl set–up until last year.

“Music has definitely become much more of a passive thing,” said Bennek. “You can listen to music in your car, you can listen to music at the gym, you can listen to music at work. You can take it with you just about everywhere you go these days. Is [vinyl better? It’s all about that experience. I can listen to any of this stuff on the internet, Spotify, for free.”

From the colorful to the bizarre, each album has a story.

“This one was actually spearheaded by one of my really close, unfortunately late, friends,” said Ryan Jackson, pulling out a record from his collection. “This is a band out of Minneapolis called Greasy Meal. When I was in college, we used to go see these guys a lot. This is number 7 of 300 that were pressed. And everybody who purchased this album helped the band pay for the cost.”

Jackson’s collection started when he was much younger.

“When I grew up, my first copy of Thriller was a record,” said Jackson. “I still own it. Still sounds good. It’s not quite in good a shape as all the others, because after all, I was 12.”

The more albums are played, the more worn down they get.

But Jackson says there are many ways to preserve them for a long time.

“This is the cleaner,” said Jackson. “There are a number of models like this. It doesn’t have to be something like this, I find this is really fast. You put your record on it, spin it, use cleaning fluid, brush it all down, and it vacuums the liquid off of it.”

This meticulous care for his stuff is something Jackson learned from his folks.

“How did Dad always used to put it?” said Jackson. “Old farmer, didn’t say much. But when he did, you listened because he hardly ever spoke. Nothing is for free and you just never know if tomorrow is gonna be the day where you can’t afford what you have today, so take care of it and it will serve you well. I kind of kept that with me.”

Does it really sound better?

Jackson says he’s heard digital music in studios which sound much better than vinyl.

But for what consumers are able to get their hands on, the vinyl experience has a lot to offer.

Be it nostalgia or a connection to the artist, many in the area are keeping vinyl alive and well.

The Fargo Record Fair fills up the Jet Center once every fall.

To find out more, click here.

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